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96-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Denied Voter ID Because She Didn’t Have Her Marriage License

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"96-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Denied Voter ID Because She Didn’t Have Her Marriage License"

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Dorothy Cooper (Photo Credit: Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Swept up in the craze of preventing widespread voter fraud that doesn’t actually exist, Tennessee Republicans passed a voter identification law this year that they claimed would put an end to fraud and ensure fair elections. Like similar laws in other states, Tennessee’s version has come under scrutiny from voting rights advocates, civil rights groups like the NAACP and ACLU, and even Democratic senators, who oppose the laws because they will disenfranchise poor, elderly, and minority voters who are less likely to have photo IDs.

The state now has evidence that that will be the case. Dorothy Cooper, a 96-year-old Chattanooga resident who says she has voted in every election but one since she became eligible to vote, wanted to ensure she’d have the necessary ID to vote in next year’s elections, when Tennessee’s law goes into effect. But when she went to apply for the ID, she was denied, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports:

That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander.

But I didn’t have my marriage certificate,” Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center.

“I don’t know what difference it makes,” Cooper said.

Cooper doesn’t have a driver’s license — she never learned to drive — and has never needed identification to vote, and her lack of a valid marriage license is likely due to the fact that she’s outlived two husbands. Under the Tennessee law, Cooper will still be able to vote via absentee ballot, which does not require photo ID. But standing outside her normal voting precinct, Cooper told the Times Free Press she will miss going there to vote. “We always come here to vote,” Cooper said. “The people who run the polls know everybody here.”

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